Looking To Force More Turnovers

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 28, 2009 – 3:30 pm

The Vikings defense hasn’t done much wrong so far this preseason. As we mentioned in an earlier blog, they lead the NFL in sacks through 2 preseason contests.

But the defensive unit is also excelling in other areas. For example, the Vikings defense currently ranks #1 overall and #1 against the pass. They’ve also allowed just 16 points so far in the preseason, which is the lowest among all teams.

While addressing reporters after practice on Friday, Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress was asked where he’d like to see improvement in his defensive unit. The above-mentioned statistics might cause one to think there isn’t much room for improvement, but Childress put an offensive spin on his response.

“As Leslie (Frazier) says all the time, taking the ball away,” Childress said. “They’ve done a decent job of getting fumbles on the ground. We’d like to have more interceptions, tips, those kinds of things. You’re always mindful of that and being able to turn the ball to the offense on a short field.”

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Berrian Progressing Toward Return

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 28, 2009 – 2:20 pm

Vikings speedy WR Bernard Berrian didn’t play against the Chiefs last Friday night because of a leg injury he suffered in the team’s 1st preseason game on August 14 at Indianapolis. But the 6-year pro has been back out on the practice field lately participating in portions of practice.

Head coach Brad Childress, like the rest of the NFL’s head coaches, prefers not to address injuries in the preseason but when asked specifically about his star WR after practice on Friday he did say that Berrian has “a chance” to play on Monday night in Houston.

“He’s progressing,” Childress said. “To put a percentage on where he’s at…you always have to be careful. Guys will tell you when they’re ready to go back; them and the medical staff. He’s pushing through.”

With Brett Favre slated to play the 1st half on Monday, it would be beneficial for Berrian to be on the field for at least a portion of the first 2 quarters. The QB and WR haven’t played in a game together since Favre’s arrival a little more than a week ago, but the 2 have worked on the side before and after practice to begin developing a rapport.

However beneficial it might be for Berrian to get some reps with Favre during the preseason, it’s clearly more of a priority to ensure Berrian is back to full strength once the regular season commences on September 13. Berrian was a vital piece in the Vikings passing attack in 2008, leading the team in receiving yards, hauling in 4 of the team’s 5 longest TD passes and leading the league in yards per catch (20.1) among WRs with 40 or more grabs.

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The Schism That Unites

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 28, 2009 – 8:28 am

The 1st definition of the word “schism” that comes up in an internet search is: “division or disunion, esp. into mutually opposed parties.” But something strange has happened at Winter Park – the schism that reportedly exists in the Vikings locker room regarding support, or the lack thereof, of QB Brett Favre has actually united the players even further.

Said Vikings RB Adrian Peterson on Wednesday about the existance of a divide in the Vikings locker room regarding Favre: “That’s something new to me. I’m not sensing nothing like that at all. I don’t know where that came from. That’s news to me.”

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress shared a similar sentiment on Wednesday as well, saying “I certainly don’t see anything that points to that.”

“Brett has fit in great. He’s one of the guys,” safety Madieu Williams said on Thursday, according to “Everybody has welcomed him with open arms. He’s fit right in. He’s been a great locker-room guy.”

Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press caught up with All-Pro G Steve Hutchinson after practice, who said, “I understand where the media is coming from, because they have to write about him. But there’s only so many ways to say there’s no truth to it.”

Jensen also spoke with WR Sidney Rice, who said, “There’s nothing like that in the locker room. Everyone is focused on their assignments, and doing what they can do to make this a better team.

“There’s no ‘We want Tarvaris. We want Brett.’ We can’t control those things, no matter what we say. That’s up to the head man, and his decision goes every time.”

Pro Bowl CB Antoine Winfield told Jensen: “Guys are happy he’s here. I’m happy he’s here. Hopefully he can take us to where we need to go.”

It got to the point on Thursday at Winter Park where players were either amused by the notion of a schism or simply annoyed by it. Chip Scoggins observed in the Star Tribune’s “Access Vikings” blog that LB Chad Greenway, walking off the field, said: “Schism. You guys are making up words now.” And DE Jared Allen quipped: “I’m not answering any schism questions. It’s all [expletive].”

Rice perhaps had the best quote, saying the players have transcended being stuck on their personal opinion about which QB gives them the best chance to win and instead have the attitude that no matter the identity of the starting QB, all of the QBs have the support of everyone in the locker room.

And that’s really the best attitude to have. It’s unrealistic to expect a locker room full of 79 players and a full coaching staff to have a unanimous sentiment regarding a hot-button topic like the identity of the starting QB. But it’s not unrealistic to expect that same locker room to unite behind whomever is identified as the starter. That’s what has happened in Minnesota.

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